Hi! I’m Connie Stapleton, a licensed psychologist specializing in the field of obesity medicine. For the past 17 years, I have worked with individuals and groups of individuals all dealing with struggles related to the disease of obesity.

Society’s negative reaction to and treatment of those who suffer from this life-altering and life-threatening disease has long been ignored. In recent years, thanks to organizations like the OAC, with the ongoing efforts of individuals supporting these organizations, the public stigma against those with obesity is being challenged. The world is hearing and seeing the message. Positive changes are taking place: fat-shaming is being less and less tolerated as more advocates like you stand up against it.

I have been privileged to work with the OAC in a number of ways: I have been a speaker at the Your Weight Matters Convention, have participated in a trip to our nation’s capital to promote legislation reform, and have recently recorded an OAC Health Talk. Additional efforts to help make positive strides in obesity medicine include speaking with national and international groups of patients and professionals, teaching online courses, hosting women’s retreats, writing books and hosting webinars. Together, we can, and are making a difference in how obesity is being treated and ensuring that those suffering from the disease are treated with respect.

One of the aims of my professional work is to encourage individuals who suffer from the disease of obesity to advocate for the cessation of public fat-shaming. Equally, if not, more importantly, I advocate that these same people stop fat-shaming themselves. Sadly, too many people suffering from the disease of obesity engage in ongoing, negative, demeaning, and critical statements about themselves related to their weight. They entertain self-criticism about body image, perceived personal limitations, or desired capabilities. Most tragically, they call themselves the very same critical, belittling names they outwardly advocate against. Their self-shaming may be aloud or secretly verbalized in one’s own head.

As the world is held accountable for removing the shaming comments and stigmatizing attitudes toward those with obesity, I petition each of you who has been personally afflicted by the disease of obesity, to compassionately grant yourselves the same attitude of acceptance and support you so genuinely extend to your fellow sufferers. Advocate for one another and champion yourselves to end both the internal and external biases related to obesity.

Working as individuals, as groups, as organizations and as communities we will continue to reduce fat-shaming and the stigma about those who suffer from obesity. Thanks for being part of the solution!

By Connie Stapleton, PhD